Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bracks no grinning angel

The Fitzgerald Inquiry into Queensland Police Corruption recommended that the State Government premier and police minister should only meet police union officers when the Chief Police Commissioner was present. The intention was to keep the police union at arm's length from government - to keep the process honest. These principles apply particularly to the Victorian Police now because it is recognised as having significant corruption problems currently being investigated by the OPI.

But Victoria’s Premier Bracks and his then police minister, Tim Holding, secretly met Head of the Victorian Police Association Paul Mullett, in the absence of Chief Commissioner Nixon, during last year's state election campaign.

The Premier's wanted Mullett's support. He obtained this by means of a 6-page ‘record of commitments’ that provides agreement on many union demands. This deal makes a farce of the current enterprise bargaining talks between Nixon and Mullett since a secret pay increase. as well as other union demands. had been agreed to 3.5 months ago. Bracks has also underwritten the legal bills of officers being investigated by George Brouwer of the OPI. The OPI itself read of the Mullet-Bracks deal in the press - as the rest of us mug taxpayers did.

This was relevant information to voters since it is taxpayers who will fund the cost of prosecuting and defending suspected corrupt cops. The complete transcript of the document is here. It is well worth reading, testimony to Mullet’s bargaining skills and to assessing Steve Bracks’ integrity.

In the election lead-up, Mullett declared war on Labor. But, after the deal, Mullett campaigned strongly for Labor and derided the Liberals, despite the Opposition offering more police recruits.
How will leftwing blogs pursue this? They probably won’t in general though John Quiggin has made a useful post here. They have, for the most part, been silent on the Brian Burke fiasco and Bracks’ efforts will be ignored too. Imagine the negative publicity if Jeff Kennett had done what Bracks has just done.

Labor is now involved in corrupt and dishonest dealings around Australia. Child sex, drugs, corrupt payments to property developers and corrupt king-makers, lying to parliament and now secret deals with a police force where corruption is a serious and acknowledged problem. The sleeze issue is a difficult one for Labor linked to Labor’s factional structure and its time-honoured traditions of handing out of favors to buy support. Integrity doesn’t play a part.

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